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Contact ID Theft Unit:
Phone: 410-576-6491
email:
idtheft@oag.state.md.us

Comprehensive Guide to Identity Theft (PDF)

Identity Theft Passport

Guide to Freezing Your Credit Report

Data Security Breaches:

About Information Security Breaches

Maryland Information Security Breach Notices:

Businesses:
Guidelines for security breach notifications

Digital Copier Security

   

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Image of couple looking at computerThe Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit has tools available to help victims of identity theft address their problems, and to help all consumers protect themselves from identity thieves.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting nearly ten million Americans a year, and Marylanders are not immune. Examples of identity theft include when a thief uses your personal identifying information to open credit accounts in your name or evade criminal liability. Identity thieves can obtain your personal information by:

  • Stealing wallets and purses
  • Stealing mail
  • Completing a “change of address” form to divert your mail to another location
  • “Dumpster Diving” for documents with personal information
  • “Phishing” or sending e-mails that appear to be from legitimate businesses asking for consumer's personal information
  • “Skimming” or using special storage devices to steal your credit or debit card number when they process your card.
  • “Pretexting” or using false pretenses to obtain your information from your bank, phone company, or even you.
  • Stealing files from businesses where they are a customer or employee, or by hacking into electronic files.

The Identity Theft Unit can give you step-by-step advice on how to protect yourself from ID thieves using, or continuing to use, your personal information. We may also be able to help you to address some of the issues that identity theft causes, such as dealing with credit card companies or collection agencies.
You may contact the Identity Theft Unit by calling (410) 576-6491 or by sending an e-mail to idtheft@oag.state.md.us.


target logoDecember 20, 2013 - AG Gansler: Credit/Debit Card Users Can Protect Themselves Against Theft
Target shoppers, all consumers can take a few quick and simple steps to prevent identity theft and fraud from data breaches and other threats

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today offered tips and advice to Maryland consumers about the many ways they can protect themselves, especially if they believe their credit or debit cards were used to purchase items at Target stores between November 27 and December 15 of this year. Target announced on Thursday that an estimated 40 million credit and debit card accounts may be affected by a data breach which could lead to identity theft or actual theft from credit or bank accounts. Read Full Press Release here..


How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:

  • A new law that took effect Jan. 1, 2013 enables parents and legal guardians to place a security freeze on their minor child's credit records that would prevent identity thieves from opening credit accounts in the child's name. For more information on how to submit freeze requests to each of the three major credit reporting agencies, see http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2012/122712a.html.

  • Review your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies twice per year. You can stagger them so you are looking at a fresh report every two months. Under Maryland and federal law, you are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each of the Credit Reporting Agencies each year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to access your report through the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. You must contact each of the three Credit Reporting Agencies individually to access your credit report under Maryland law:
  • Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
    Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

  • Use passwords and PIN numbers for your credit card, bank, and phone accounts.
  • Use a safe to secure personal information in your home.
  • Don't carry your social security card, bank account PIN or other sensitive information with you -- leave it at home in a secure place.
  • Don't give out your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary –- ask for a randomly generated ID number.
  • Don't give out your personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know you can trust the person on the other side.
  • Buy a shredder and destroy any documents that contain personal information instead of throwing them away. This includes credit card offers you receive in the mail, bank statements, phone bills, etc.
  • Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (567-8688) and junk mail by writing to the direct marketing association at:
  • Mail Preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    P.O. Box 643
    Carmel, NY 10512

  • Use a locking mailbox to prevent mail theft.
  • Be wary of e-mail scams. If you did not enter an international lottery, it is unlikely that you won anything... If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Click here for our comprehensive guide to identity theft.

Identity Theft Passports for Victims
One of the tools we can offer you is an Identity Theft Passport. The Passport is a tool that may help you resolve financial issues caused by identity theft, and may help prevent a wrongful arrest if a thief uses your personal identifying information during the commission of a crime. To obtain a Passport, you must fill out and submit an application to the Identity Theft Unit. It is very important that you include a copy of a police report regarding the crime committed against you, as well as a photocopy of your Maryland Driver's License or other State-issued identification card. We will conduct a background check to verify your identity and the details of the crime, so please include any other supporting documents that you may have. Court documents, financial account statements or your credit report will be very helpful in speeding up the approval process. Once we determine whether you are eligible for a passport, we will contact you to provide you with instructions on how to activate your Passport and answer any questions you may have.

Click here to fill out the application online, or to download the application.

Consumer Credit “Security Freezes”
A “security freeze” or “credit freeze” completely blocks the information on your credit report from would-be creditors. A credit freeze can help prevent identity theft. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumer's credit history. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number might not be able to get credit in your name. Maryland law prohibits credit reporting agencies from charging more than $5 per credit freeze. Anyone who is a victim of identity theft will be able to freeze his or her credit reports for free.

Click here for a guide to freezing your credit report.


Helpful Links:

The Federal Trade Commission has useful information on it's identity theft website, visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft for more.

The Identity Theft Resource Center is a non-profit organization that provides victim support and consumer education, visit them at www.idtheftcenter.org/.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a non-profit organization specializing in consumer education, visit www.privacyrights.org.

Contact the Identity Theft Unit:

Phone: (410) 576-6491
Fax: (410) 576-6566
E-mail: idtheft@oag.state.md.us
Mail:
200 St. Paul Place
16th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202

 

 

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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